Alzheimer’s disease is among the conditions with the most surprising projections for the next 50 years as the numbers of diagnoses are expected to quadruple. But, why?
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that modifies a patient's lifestyle entirely. Although a cure for this neurodegenerative disease has yet to be found, it is not a secret that the medical community have never stopped looking for possible treatments in order to slow the progression of the condition. However, it is also true that the number of people who are being affected by Alzheimer’s is increasing as time wears on.
The alarming increase of Alzheimer's cases
Studies related to Alzheimer's disease have revealed that cases of this condition have increased by 10% in the last five years. So, according to the calculations of this institution, it is estimated that as the population ages the numbers of the cases will also increase.
Reports unveil that currently 1 out of every 8 people who are over 65 years old suffer from Alzheimer's and almost 1 of every 2 people suffering from the condition is over 85 years of age, which demonstrates how important age is as a risk factor. Projections carried out during the previous decade focused the post-war generation once they have reached 65 years old, which translated into an increased number of cases and sadly, projections for the next 30 years are not positive regarding the evolution of the disease.
Additionally, it is worth mentioning that as the researchers point out, advances in the fight against heart disease, cancer, and other ailments have prolonged people's lives, giving them the opportunity to develop Alzheimer's. This explains the slight decrease in deaths due to such diseases in the face of an increase in Alzheimer's cases.
For experts in the area, the importance of collecting data related to the condition is vital for the development of possible treatments. The main focus of new researches are the first stages of the disease, which actually has been for some time since the government started to fund investigations of Alzheimer's along with other neurodegenerative diseases.
The evolution of Alzheimer’s disease
One of the latest reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown deaths in the U.S caused by Alzheimer’s diseases have increased considerably between the end of the 90’s up to 2014, which is a 15-year period. The percentage found is 54.5%, which is surprising for such a short period of time.
Experts have already spoken about two major reasons that may have influenced this increase:
- There has been an important increase in the quality of evaluations that unveil if someone suffers from Alzheimer’s, increasing the number of Alzheimer’s diagnoses as well.
- Treatment conditions for other diseases, as aforementioned, they have improved consistently during this latest decade, enlarging the medium lifetime expectancy and allowing people to live for much longer because of an early diagnosis of the disease.
Doctors have openly spoken about the advances in Alzheimer’s diagnosing and all efforts are put together in order to increase the possibilities of diagnosing the disease at earlier stages. These kinds of advances make Alzheimer’s disease less likely to be attributed to the cause of death of someone. Alzheimer’s is commonly treated as an underlying cause of death instead of a main trigger.
Worrying figures on Alzheimer’s disease
However, the number of deaths that have Alzheimer’s as an underlying condition that may ultimately cause death has also increased, the most surprising jump being in Wisconsin where the state climbed to 25.5% from 1999 to 2014.
But the one single most worrying number of all the projections is certainly the number of cases predicted for 2050. Reports predict that only in the U.S cases will raise up to be quadruple of today's amount.
Doctors have highlighted the critical importance of research now, but the skyrocketing numbers do not define a cause at all. Many physicians state that it is time to look for a way to prevent this disease, and an excellent initiative in this regard is the UW Initiative to End Alzheimer’s.
Another worrying fact is the expenses that many suffer from due to Alzheimer's because of the current healthcare system across the world. The number of cases skyrocketing over the next few years will most likely end up in around four million people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Breaking down the costs caused by Alzheimer’s disease:
When breaking down the costs related to Alzheimer’s disease, an estimated amount of $3.50 per American is the average cost for National Institutes of Health to spend on Alzheimer’s researches, which would mean approximately $170 billion is spent on this disease every year.
Taking into account the increasing curve of Alzheimer’s cases, caregivers would be paying an approximate of $20 trillion by 2050, which is an astonishing figure for just 30 years from now.
The future of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease
Doctors in the area remain hopeful and optimistic about the future of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, as so far it is believed that the disease similarly to diabetes, hypertension and cancer. The majority of diabetics and hypertensives take three or four types of medication. Certainly, diabetes, cancer and hypertension are also diseases related to aging and they have not been countered effectively yet, but there have been important advances thanks to several studies over the past 90 years, making progress a consistent goal in mind for all researchers. Many physicians believe that Alzheimer’s patients should get used to taking 4 or 5 pills per day as people with diabetes and other conditions do.
People with Alzheimer’s should take the number of pills required in order to protect specific areas of the brain. Nevertheless, the first and most important step right now is to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for as long as possible, but to do this, more has to be known about how to detect the disease early.
Also, many different advances in the area of Alzheimer’s treatments and diagnosis are expected to happen over the next 10 to 20 years. It is very likely that by that time doctors have already been able to ideate effective therapies that can slow down the neurodegenerative disease.